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Innocent until proven guilty, even in domestic violence cases

Many Virginia residents have probably heard the chart-topping songs by rapper Curtis Jackson, whose stage name is 50 Cent. They may not know, however, that he stands accused of committing domestic violence.

Jackson recently plead not guilty to the charge of domestic violence against his ex-girlfriend, the mother of his child. The artist's attorney told a crowd outside court that his client denies the allegations against him, which include destroying property at her condo during a heated argument and kicking her. Jackson was not at the scene when the police arrived.

Even though there has not yet been a formal hearing, the judge has told Jackson that he is not allowed to possess any weapons, nor is he allowed to contact his ex by email or phone. The pretrial hearing on this issue is scheduled for September. If Jackson is convicted, he could face $46,000 in fines and up to five years in prison.

Like many other types of cases, domestic violence can result in a "he said, she said" scenario in which the truth is hard to find. An alleged victim may level false claims for reasons such as revenge, to leave the other with a damaged reputation or to win a child custody dispute. It is important that both the alleged victim and the defendant are taken seriously in domestic violence disputes and that defendants are afforded a presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

Domestic violence charges are not anything courts take lightly. As the above case illustrates, not all consequences for domestic violence come after a conviction. Besides losing one's right to possess a firearm, a defendant could lose child custody or visitation rights by merely being accused of committing an act of domestic violence. Virginia residents who are accused of domestic violence may want to contact a legal professional to help protect their rights.

Source: WVIR, "50 Cent pleads not guilty to domestic violence," Linda Deutsch, Aug. 5, 2013